TripAdvisor direct bookings TripConnect explained

TripConnect explained
TripAdvisor for business

Many accommodation businesses are confused about TripAdvisor’s direct bookings, are you one them?  Let’s try to explain, so find a nice quiet spot to sit down with a glass or mug of your favourite drink.

In the last year TripAdvisor has changed its business model a number of times leaving many potential customers confused and even locked out. We have created a couple of videos to help you understand these changes (skip to these at the foot of the article…if you like) but it’s probably worthwhile seeing some of the basic facts first. Like them or not, here they are;

  1. TripAdvisor is a booking website used to book accommodation online.
  2. Accommodation businesses can receive bookings directly from the TripAdvisor website using a booking engine i.e. Freetobook.
  3. If you are already working with an OTA (Online Travel Agent) like Expedia or you may find that the OTAs advertise your availability on TripAdvisor. These bookings will come through the OTA (not directly from TripAdvisor) and look like any other OTA booking and you pay your agreed commission to the OTA, as usual.
  4. The OTA pays to advertise on the TripAdvisor website, each OTA decides if they want to advertise your availability. You have no control over this.
  5. TripAdvisor lists availability and prices prominently so properties that don’t have online rates will be more difficult to find and if they are found they’ll be surrounded by images and popups directing customers to nearby available properties.
  6. Available to accommodation owners worldwide except if you have a holiday rental on HolidayLettings or FlipKey

In short, if you don’t have online rates you will receive less traffic and fewer bookings than in previous years.

Direct bookings via TripAdvisor
Direct bookings via TripAdvisor

If you do want bookings this way then you choose your route, direct with TripAdvisor or through an OTA – either way there is no requirement for any fixed upfront costs, no subscriptions or annual fees.

To get bookings direct you will need an account with TripAdvisor and an approved booking engine (or connectivity partner i.e. freetobook). Simply login to your TripAdvisor account and setup your direct advertising via their TripConnect service. Most approved booking engines charge for this service but with us it is completely free.

To advertise directly on their website you will need to pay TripAdvisor. In their wisdom they have created two models for payment (hence our two videos mentioned earlier).

Model One: Pay Per ClickTripAdvisor CPC video
Here you pay TripAdvisor a click fee each time a customer clicks on your advert, on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis. However, you DON’T pay for a search, you only pay when the customer searches AND then clicks on your available price. If you are not available on the dates the customer searches or they don’t click the price then you don’t pay.

Cost Per Click model facts:
You pay when a customer clicks on your available price.
TripAdvisor sets the click costs and from feedback they are generally quite low (but we can’t see or know the cost, they are only visible in TripAdvisor).
You can vary what you pay per click (your bid). If you bid too low then TripAdvisor will remove the advert and you would have to increase your bid to show again.
If you work with an OTA they might also advertise alongside your CPC advert.
You set the budget and pay TripAdvisor and can switch it on/off as you please.

In this model you pay for the advertising and you measure the bookings that come from the clicks. Bidding higher for clicks will make you show at the top of any adverts on your property and bidding too low will mean you don’t show. You make the judgement as to the cost effectiveness of your advertising by totalling up the bookings versus the click costs.  Ideally that return has to better than any other booking options i.e. OTA commissions.

Enjoy the youtube video on the Cost Per Click model.

Model Two: Pay Per Booking model (Instant Booking)Instant Booking video for TripConnect
In this model you only pay TripAdvisor for bookings. There is no cost for each click, instead you pay a commission amount on realised bookings. You set this up by logging into TripAdvisor account and activating an Instant Booking campaign. You pay TripAdvisor a commission fee only after the customer has completed their stay. At the time of this blog Instant Booking is not available to all properties. Use the Instant booking link below to check.

Pay Per Booking model facts:
You pay either 12% or 15% commission after the customer has stayed.
If you bid 12% then TripAdvisor will show your advert 25% of the time.
If you bid 15% then TripAdvisor will show your advert 50% of the time.
No other OTAs will show if your advert is showing.
There is no payment/commission due on bookings that cancel.

Enjoy the youtube video on the Pay Per Booking model

By now you are either asleep or completely up to speed on direct bookings from TripAdvisor….. that is before it changes (only joking!)  As always, please share your experience of this service or any other relevant news, let us know how it has or hasn’t worked for you.

Other relevant pages:
List of premium partners (booking engines) with TripAdvisor
TripConnect CPC on freetobook
TripConnect Instant Booking on freetobook
TripAdvisor TripConnect on their site
TripAdvisor Instant Booking on their site

World's Best B&B 2015
World’s Best B&B 2015

Millgate B&B was awarded the best B&B in the World 2015, why not have a little read about how Sue did it along with a few tips to learn from.

If you’re a historian or an online booking nerd and want to see some old blogs on how TripAdvisor has changed since we first started reporting and connecting way back in July 2013

TripAdvisor is becoming a Booking Website

8 Things You NEED to Know about the TripAdvisor Changes

Are you up to speed with the changes at TripAdvisor? Not knowing could lose you bookings.

TripAdvisor is Changing into a Booking Website. If you don’t have online booking you can lose bookings that you used to get from TripAdvisor.

  1. TripAdvisor is now a booking website, you can check live rates and availability.
  2. TripAdvisor will soon be advertising on TV just like other booking websites.
  3. The TripAdvisor home page (Image Below) now asks for a destination and your travel DATES.
  4. If you are on TripAdvisor looking for somewhere to stay they will show you availability and rates from, LateRooms, Expedia, your property etc….
  5. You can now advertise your own direct availability on TripAdvisor next to the OTAs(Video Below)
  6. If you don’t work with any of, LateRooms, Expedia and you don’t advertise your own availability on TripAdvisor you will lose bookings you used to get from TripAdvisor.

What do you need to do to get your rates and availability on TripAdvisor ?

  1. You need an online booking system that can connect with TripAdvisor.
  2. Alternatively you need to work with an Online Travel Agent (OTA) like that will advertise your availability on TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor Show Prices button

Here is a short video to show you how to add rates and availability to you TripAdvisor page using your booking system.

Click Here to see the Video

As TripAdvisor grows their booking strategy you can expect more and more links to the booking process. It is likely that more of the page space on TripAdvisor’s website will be devoted to directing the customer to rates and availability.

This is a copy of the TripAdvisor home page, as you can see its asking for a destination, arrival and departure dates so they can show you rates and availability.

TripAdvisor HomePage

TripAdvisor Pay Per Click advertising
TripAdvisor Pay Per Click advertising



TripAdvisor Major Upgrade creates delay

We have recently completed an integration with TripAdvisor to enable Freetobook customers to advertise on their TripAdvisor (TA) page. We believe this makes good

TripAdvisor Show Prices button
TripAdvisor Show Prices button for direct bookings

business sense because potential customers visiting your TA page are at a late stage in the purchasing cycle – in other words they are ready to buy, a perfect time to advertise your direct link to them.



As part of our service, Freetobook provides an interface to show how many clicks/searches you have paid for and which bookings have resulted from the clicks.

TripAdvisor Show Prices click analysis
TripAdvisor click analysis graph and stats











This keeps you in control and gives you the information you need to calculate your profit from advertising on your TA page. The graphs and figures are easy to read and monitor.

What does the new TripAdvisor upgrade mean to the “Show Prices” button ?

TripAdvisor call this upgrade their “meta interface” and it has some big advantages over their older system. Show Prices button is clicked by customers after they have put in their desired dates.

  1. A neat interface showing customers your available rates on searched dates as provided by various suppliers.
  2. If you are not available (sold out or closed) you will not show on the list and therefore no click charge can occur from the “Show Prices” button.
  3. You only pay when the customer clicks the (Book) button

See an example of the new “meta interface” page below.

Clearly this has major advantages to advertisers. You will not pay if the customer is searching for dates when you are full or closed, nor will you pay if they are speculatively checking rates and availability. You only pay if the customer clicks on the (Book) button. Obviously a click on a (Book) button is far more valuable than a click on a (Show Prices) button.

With the new “meta interface” (live API) click prices will be higher than for the old system but the number of clicks will be far lower. There will also be a different price for TripAdvisor’s mobile pages. We are currently busy completing the new integration to the “meta interface” which we are confident will be a great benefit to freetobook customers.

The Meta Interface page is fed by the live API. A customer will see this when they enter dates and click the (Show Prices) button.

TripAdvisor Meta Interface results

Meta Interface TripAdvisor live API results (example)



1) The top 4 advertisers with a live API are shown in Cost Per Click price order

2) The top paying advertiser (Expedia in this case) is highlighted with a bigger box, different coloured ‘book’ button, one additional room type shown and a marketing tagline (in this case “120,000 hotels all over the world”) which is provided by the partner

3) Other advertisers with an API who are not in the top 4 show at the bottom with a price

4) Advertisers without an API show at the bottom as a text link

5) Advertisers with an API who did not have availability show, but you are not able to click on them (in this case LateRooms)